Wuxia

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started by Viridisium

Contents

Suitability for Roguelikes

Wuxia deal with a world of frequent combat and strange powers. The zero to (super/godlike) hero progression where the protagonist defeats whole armies single-handedly fits the wuxia genre as well as it does the roguelike genre. Probably the greatest difficulty is to bring in the vertical dimension to allow for leaping and falling adequate to the genre.

Combat Considerations

  • Swordfighting
    • Different special moves, such as that one move in Hero - Nameless strikes with "surgical precision" and cuts through the body without harming any vital organs, allowing for the faking of murders, which might be helpful in a more story-based Wuxia roguelike.
    • Impale, Sweep, Jump attacks, like in Berserk!.
    • Maybe a mode where you move extremely quickly and can get in ten or so attacks per turn, with enemies probably dying unless they had the same skill to defend themselves. This mode would last only a short while, three or so turns, and even that might be too much.
  • Jumping/Third dimension
    • It could be set up like, say, Dwarf Fortress, with a separate screen off to the side showing height.
    • Some interesting things like jumping (j?) could be implemented, as well as the option to attack above or below you. Another interesting idea is this: An area with lots of bamboo poles spread around. The character must balance successfully each turn, or fall off - possibly onto spikes or fire.
  • Other normal weapons
    • Bo staff fighting
    • Flails, chains, whips
  • Throwing things
    • Shuriken, throwing daggers (remember to include all sorts of different types)
    • Maybe a skill - "Irregular Throwing" - to throw large, unwieldy objects, such as swords, large rocks and such.
    • Items are frequently kicked at the enemy, like throwing with the foot.
  • Possible gunpowder? (Depends on the time period chosen for the setting.)
  • Strange weapons
    • A variety of exotic weapons should be included.
    • Huge hooks, extremely long swords and staves, the flying guillotine...
    • Magical/special weapons may exist.
  • Improvised weapons in combat
    • People in wuxia films always seem to be able to turn anything into a deadly weapon. Parasols, antlers, books, plates. Most of the items included in the game should be able to be used as weapons. ** Most of the "martial arts weapons" are modified versions of farm implements that were used as weapons by peasant fighters who were not allowed proper weapons.
    • Scenery also is used to hurt the enemy, whether by slapping him with a tree branch or spinning him into a stone pillar.

Martial Arts

Martial arts are, of course, a huge part of wuxia. All sorts of moves should be included. Another concept is this: Each level, you can choose a few more moves, or improve already existing moves. Each time you choose to improve existing moves, you should get a fairly good bonus, since you're giving up new stuff in favor of old things. Of course, this bonus would decrease with time, since eventually that move would be too powerful. Alternately, the bonus could never stop increasing, resulting in the move getting insanely powerful as you increase levels. This, however, would probably result in the game becoming too easy after taking a powerful move and improving it to the point at which it can obliterate practically the whole dungeon. Admittedly, it would be possible to reduce experience gain from moves as you improve them. That would be a good way to tone down the power.

I actually don't need to list possible martial arts moves, it's pretty easy to think these up. I would like to point out that Kung Fu Hustle, a wuxia film, has some incredibly creative moves. Namely, the Buddhist's Palm, which - when improved by enlightenment - has exactly the kind of thing that a wuxia roguelike should have. Imagine flying or being hit extremely high, then coming down and smashing a gigantic imprint of a hand into the ground, smashing the spines of whoever is standing there. Of course, this could probably only be performed in outside environments. (The super-impressive use was also dependent on the antagonist hitting the hero way up into the sky so that he could come down from a height to begin with. Even "flying" heroes don't seem to go that high.) Preferably, this hypothetical WuxiaRL would take place almost exclusively in randomly generated towns, forests, and other such locale. This makes for a more intriguing game when combined with the third dimension and a whole heap of martial arts. Imagine, perhaps, snowy forests as in The Promise, swamps, oceans, cliffs, tops of mountains, and all manner of exotic locale.

Genre Hallmarks

Martial arts are not just for kicking butt. There are martial arts schools whose rivalry fuels many plots. Rival martial artists may fight simply to argue the case that their style is superior. (This will not normally be to the death unless one school is "evil".)

Learning martial arts techniques is an important plot element and probably should not be handled purely through level advancement. One may need to locate a master to learn his secret techniques. There are also books and scrolls detailing martial arts techniques and these become plot elements when they detail "lost" martial arts secrets of the old days, when, of course, kung fu powers were greater than today. Different martial arts schools may have access to different powers and allow the basis for a class system of different martial artist types.

The power of a martial artist comes not from skill and athleticism alone, but from mastery of one's internal mystical energy flow, tapping the power of chi. It is this that allows kung fu masters to perform at super-human levels.

Normally, a wuxia tale is set in historical China, but China has a long history to choose from (and the history is not necessarily any more accurate than in a Hollywood historical).

The framework for adventure deserves some melodrama. Strong personal relationships are typical driving forces in wuxia. The hero may be seeking to avenge a murdered father, prove himself to his teacher, or save his lover.

The Usual Stuff

  • Robes
    • Catching things with extended clothes, or ripping weapons out of people's hands. "Cloth Grabbing" as a skill?
    • It's also possible to hide things in robes, sometimes supernaturally so. Imagine someone grabbing shuriken out of hidden flaps in their robes, long after the supply should have ran out. Maybe, there could be artifact robes that could be reached into and have weapons pulled out. Or perhaps just fairly rare magical robes - "Cloak of Infinite Shuriken" or "Robe of Infinite Throwing Daggers".
  • Flying
    • Again, this would require 3D to be interesting. With it, however, it would be an intriguing combat - and normal movement - concept. There could be a maximum height or time aloft that you could improve by flying, which takes down MP each time you use it.
    • Another interesting facet of flying would be landing on roofs, walls, and other unusual surfaces. With a skill - "Strange Landing"? - it would be possible to land briefly on a wall or even ceiling before taking off again.
  • Stealth
    • Ninjas are all about stealth. Regular stealth and even invisibility are concepts that have already been explored.
    • Teleportation could possibly be counted as being a relation of stealth. Admittedly, it's not really a staple of wuxia, but it is an interesting idea. It, too, has been explored in depth.
  • Poison
    • Poison would certainly make our WuxiaRL a more interesting game. Bottles of poison could be used - or made from snakes - for weapons, assassination, and traps.
    • Poison is a fairly frequent theme and poisons may be in food or drink as well as on weapons. However, poison can be countered by knowledgeable healers.

Fantasy Elements

There could, of course, be a ton of magic. Specifically, magic related to combat. Also, divination is pretty big in Chinese tradition. Evil sorcery is more common than good, but there were a lot of Taoist magicians, so non-evil magic isn't unheard of. Eunuchs, however, are pretty much guaranteed evil, whether they use magic or not.

As soon as I think of some examples, I'll put them here. You might think that this is a pretty big thing to leave blank. If so, write your ideas and remove this notice. I've been up for a few days and I'm too tired to think of anything good.

There would, of course, be monsters. Demons and all manner of spirits would be good. Evil, actually.

There are other types of fantastic elements that may be present. Acupuncture/acupressure techniques for healing (as well as traditional herbal medicine) are very appropriate.

Inspirational Sources

Movies: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, The Promise, Kung Fu Hustle, House of Flying Daggers, all the usual suspects.

Note that the movies derive from an older (and still thriving) written tradition. However, movies tend to be a lot easier to come by in the English-speaking world.

The Wuxia Alphabet

The "Roguelike Alphabet" section of theme features is meant primarily for those using traditional ASCII graphics where monsters are represented by letters, but even if you are using tile graphics, they are a resource for filling out your game's population.

  • A Assassin, Archer
  • B Bandit, Bowman, Blind Man, Beggar, Bird
  • C Crossbowman, Child, Cop, Craftsman
  • D Drunkard, Demon
  • E Eunuch, Evil Spirit
  • F Farmer, Farm Animal, Fish
  • G Gunman, Gangster, Ghost, Guard, Geomancer
  • H Horseman, Healer
  • I Imperial Family
  • J Jiangshi ("hopping vampire")
  • K Kid
  • L Leader, Laborer
  • M Master, Monk, Merchant, Magistrate, Manchu
  • N Ninja
  • O Old Master, Official, Ogre
  • P Pig, Pirate, Peasant, Priest
  • Q Quadruped
  • R Reptile
  • S Student, Soldier, Sailor, Sorcerer, Shaolin
  • T Tiger, Thief, Turtle, Taoist
  • U Undead
  • V
  • W Westerner, Warrior
  • X
  • Y
  • Z

See Also

Themes

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